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Cottons: The Secret of the Wind

Series by Jim Pascoe, illustrated by Heidi Arnhold. New York, NY: First Second, 2018

 

This is an intricate, complex story that has the feel of Watership Down meeting The Wind in the Willows.  It is the story of the Vale of Industry and the Vale of Clouds; the story of fire, destruction, magic, art, and . It is the story of how the Rabbits gained power over the Foxes, and how the foxes try to take it back. 

 

It is the story of Bridgebelle, the lone survivor of the fire that destroyed her warren in the Vale of Clouds now lives in the Vale of Industry. To her neighbors, Bridgebelle is an ordinary rabbit. While she’d love to spend her time on her “art”, she toils at the carrot factory and returns home to care for her ailing auntie. But Bridgebelle (unbeknown to most – at least in this first book) is not ordinary—she's a rabbit with talents beyond her own understanding. This is her story.

 

This is a beautifully written and illustrated book that tells a complex story. Its rich illustrations, deep backstory, complex characters all relay a prevailing sense of dread throughout the book. This is balanced by Bridgebelle’s extraordinary “art.” The story is wonderfully engaging. Its relatively large cast of characters are complex, however, and their stories unfold in small interspersed snippets - younger readers may find it challenging to follow.

 

Grades 4-7

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